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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

The MAGIC FORMULA for Writing a BESTSELLER_IWSG post

 

You might think the above image suggests that formula includes sexiness, mystery, and ... 

cats.

Midnight made me include that last.

But while the BESTSELLERS of the last 100 years may have included those, 

what they ALL possessed was a hotly contested SOCIAL ISSUE of its day ...

RACE, SEX, POLITICS, ALIENATION ...

Some large, unresolved, deep-seated nation-wide conflict in the minds of those who don't ordinarily read.

Even more important, those bestsellers focused on 

fractured families, outsiders, iconoclasts who go their own way irregardless of the outrage from those around them.


And above it all is  
THE DREAM


Be it the AMERICAN DREAM, the DREAM DEFERRED, the DREAM PERVERTED, the DREAM LOST, the DREAM INVADED.


It is some form of that DREAM which drives the protagonist ever onward or downward to an unknown destination.


We Americans are innately suspicious of institutions, public or private, and 

of strangers professing only good for us.

After all, the hand reaching out to feed us may actually be intent on feeding upon us.


Focusing on the mind is all very well and good, 

but the thing all bestselling authors possessed was the ability 

to connect to the heart and to the innate needs of the readers who read their books and then urged their friends to read them as well.

LAST THOUGHT ... 
FIRST LINE


SCARAMOUCHE:

"He was born with the gift of laughter and the knowledge that the world was mad."


IT JUST SEEMED THE THING TO DO:

"The rape was the best thing that happened to her."


THE OUTSIDER:

"Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday; I can't be sure."


1984:

"It was a bright, cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."



An arresting first line is crucial to grabbing readers and urging them to turn the page to find out what happens next.

May your next book be a BESTSELLER.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

THE KISS_ WEP Post

 


From 

BEWARE THE JADE CHRISTMAS

(761 Words)

Have you ever held someone close and watched the light slowly, so slowly drain from their eyes? 

I lost count of those in my own time in the second war to end all wars.  

As an O.S.S. agent, I knifed countless sentries, holding my hand over their mouths to keep their last sounds to themselves.  

I can only imagine what someone whose mind was not sociopathic would have felt.  I felt nothing, no thrill, no sadness.  Nothing.

Until Ingrid Durtz.

Against my direct orders, she came back for me that night. 

It was clear suicide to do it.  She did not care.  Ingrid loved me though I could not love her in return.  

Or I thought I couldn’t.  A hell of a thing to discover I’d believed incorrectly when it was too late.

I held her so tightly as she slowly bled out.  The bullets whined past me, and I cared not a bit.  

The feathered wings of ice fluttered against the inside of my chest, and it occurred to me that I might not fully understand what it meant to be sociopathic.

That was the lesson of the Great War: that none of us understood what we thought we did.  The truth of us was an onion, and life had a way of peeling layer after layer away while we wept.

The Christmas Eve that starts off this tale had been one of unceasing cold rain from sunrise 

until the gradual brightening of the vague white light outside the Le Prete mansion indicated that the sun was nearing its zenith.  

No White Christmases in New Orleans. 

We were in the third month of Hitchcock’s filming, Murder by Moonlight, his eerie take on the Sultan Murders in the early days of the French Quarter.

 Principal photography was nearing its end which was fortunate since most of the crew were nearing the end of their endurance and sanity.

Of course, they had been at that point after the first day and night of the shoot.  

The murders of several crew men that fateful night were still being investigated by the local police.

 They would not solve them.  Supernatural beings, even in New Orleans, could not be brought up on charges and tried in a court of law.  

Hard to slap a pair of cuffs on creatures who would tear out your throat in the attempt.  But those particular demons were three months gone.

I tried to forget the law of science that stated nature hated a vacuum and always sought to fill it.  Could that apply to the supernatural?  

I didn’t press my luck and spent the nights in my room at the Ponchartrain Hotel.

The visiting spirit of my dead lover, Ingrid Durtz, enjoyed the jazz played in the hotel’s club. 

Yes, Ingrid, the woman I discovered I could love only when she lay dying in my arms.

Science is a hollow know-it-all that proclaims surmises as certainties. 

The Gates to the Endless Gulfs had parted that harrowing night, allowing creatures of nightmare access to our plane.  

A few human souls slipped in as well.  

I could only surmise that Ingrid’s soul somehow sensed I was close to dying again, and in she rushed … into a body most like hers.

No one at Hotel Ponchartrain noticed.  

Who looks for ghosts in a jazz club?  Especially when they possess the body of a lovely police detective in a provocative emerald dress?

What do you say to the woman who loved you when you were convinced you were incapable of love?  

A woman who died saving you only to leave you with the numbing realization that you were capable of love after it was entirely too late?  

What do you say to her when you find her mind and soul housed in another’s body?

That first night after the Le Prete murders, we had a wide-ranging conversation; 

we talked about love, fate, and everybody’s inability to truly leave the past behind. 

It had been an ugly end to a woman beautiful both inside and out. I had gotten my head and heart handed to me. 

And it was all said in a simple kiss that had my lungs feeling as if they were going to burst through my chest. 

Even though I do not cry that was when the valves opened, all the used air expended into the atmosphere, and all the fresh poured in, filled with limitless new possibilities.

Perhaps Ingrid is right when she says, ‘A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.’

{The truth behind Ingrid's ghostly return will be explained in the 4th book of the Dark Hollywood series, NIGHT SEASONS.}

(If the weather disasters will ever leave me alone, I will finish this!)

I hope you enjoyed this entry of mine after Covid-19, Hurricanes, and Winter Storms have battered me.

HOUSE-BOUND AGAIN!

 


"It was so cold I almost got married." 

- Shelly Winters


Monday and Tuesday are my days off ... 

and everyone else's at Lifeshare due to the lowest temperatures in 31 years with ice and snow.

Except for my friend and supervisor, 

Freddie Rosteet.

This is a photo of him driving to check

on Lifeshare.

He should get a medal

from the company

for all he does.


Freddie and friend

in Canada.

"When it snows,

you have 2 choices:

Shovel or hunt ducks." 

- Freddie

Yes, he hunts ducks,

but he feeds those on

the bayou running along

Lifeshare.


I awoke, face stiff with cold.

The electricity was out and

the temperature was 41 degrees

in the apartment.

No water either!

The lights just came back on.

But the black-outs are rolling.


Tonight it is said to become worse.


"There is no such thing 

as bad weather -

only not enough fur!" 

- Midnight

The sidewalk to the parking lot

is as iced over as it is.

The mechanized hinges to the

gates are frozen over.


If I am called in to work,

I do not what I will do.

But every problem has

a solution --

not a perfect one --

but a solution.

May this winter storm

be treating you not too badly.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

SURREAL VALENTINE

 

"Love is a symbol of Eternity ... 

but soon or late Death 

shatters that illusion." 

- Irene Dupre

So many hearts have been scarred by

the lethal grasp of Covid-19,

tearing apart 2 hearts 

that had become one.

After 13 months of Covid Isolation,

Valentine's Day can be terribly lonely.

"All I want is a hug," some lament.

"The touch of another 

caring hand on mine."

Small acts of kindness to others

can pull us out of 

our loneliness and isolation.


Love is around you always ...

just perhaps not in the 

form you think of as love

Pets. work friends,

old friends from childhood.

Solitude can bring peace

if the mind can find 

embers of past love

to recall.

Do you know someone who is lonely,

missing a lost loved one?

Take a moment this

Valentine's Day

to touch base with them,

to let them know 

they are not forgotten.

that they matter to someone.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

NOTHING IS MORE REAL THAN THE MASKS WE MAKE TO HIDE OURSELVES

 


Finally!

Razor Valentine is out as an audio book!

Now, you can hear the

mesmerizing narration of

the talented actor

Scott ODell

https://www.amazon.com/Razor-Valentine/dp/B08VL16KX2/

Listen to how it all begins:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08G8VMMYD/


Murder, Mystery, & Mardi Gras.

They seem linked somehow.


An abused orphan girl

cries out to an ancient

Entity of Death & Retribution,

getting both more and less

than she wished,

making the 1st Mardi Gras

after WWII

a truly memorable one.

Pacts with Darkness

always take more than they

promise to give.

And to save the orphan's soul,

a former O.S.S. agent

must beat the shade of

Harry Houdini in his hardest trick

or drown trying.

C'mon!

You know you want to know

what happens next.

"I believe in my mask.

The man I made up 

bleeds and breathes.

I believe in my lies;

they are my destiny." 

- Lucas


Asking for friends to buy your audio book is like asking for a kiss ...

You never know how
it is going to go.

Thanks for at least listening.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

THE CINEMA OF PLACE

 

"The corpse must shock not only because it is a corpse but also because, even for a corpse, 

it is shockingly out of place, as when a dog makes a mess on a drawing room carpet.”

 - W. H. Auden 


It was raining again the next morning, a slanting grey rain like a swung curtain of crystal beads."

 - Raymond Chandler


Sherlock Holmes had Victorian London. 
Phillip Marlowe had L.A. of the Forties.

Your protagonist must have his locale live and breathe as a fellow character.

Setting can frame mood, meaning, and thematic connotations. 

. “The moon went slowly down in loveliness; she departed into the depth of the horizon, 

and long veil-like shadows crept up the sky through which the stars appeared." 

– H. Rider Haggard


"There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas 

that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. 

On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks."

-Raymond Chandler, "Red Wind"


HOW TO MAKE YOUR SETTING A CHARACTER

1.) WHAT MAKES YOUR SETTING UNIQUE TO YOUR CHARACTER, TO YOU

Beyond description, beyond local foods, 

find what makes your locale merge into the very fabric of your characters.



SETTING comes ALIVE through detail, but mostly in how your novel's characters responds to them.



2.)  HISTORY IS PERSONAL

How did New Orleanians experience the first Mardi Gras after WWII? 

How did returning veterans who had survived Hell and brought some of it back with them?



3.) SEE THROGH CHARACTERS' EYES.

More powerful than infusing a character with a strong opinion about his place and time 

is infusing two of them with conflicting opinions.

How would a returning veteran like Col. James Stewart view the masks of Mardi Gras 

as opposed to a returning O.S.S. agent who made his sociopathic face a mask to better blend in and kill his targets?


4.) LINK DETAILS TO EMOTIONS


What thoughts might pass through a bomber pilot's mind as he views elegant, though decrepit, 

New Orleans streets when he flew above similar streets over Europe


as opposed to the thoughts of former O.S.S. agents who wrapped the shadows around them 

as they fled Nazis down the streets of Occupied Paris. 

5.) MAKE USE OF THE TIME OF YEAR



Who has wondered what it is like in New Orleans?

 Imagine that a literal demon is walking among the partiers?

 


Who is leading that little girl 
into the fog?


A partying mother 
fetching her wayward child
or
Nuestra Señora de la Santa Muerte,
Our Lady of Holy Death?


I hope you see now
how Setting can become
the Cinema of Your Novel.